The Micam ShoEvent (micamonline.com), held here from March 15 to 18, gained international importance by hosting 7.7% more foreigners than last year. With 42,879 visitors, the shoe show drew 2.9% more visitors than its spring 2006 edition. Most of the 21,589 accredited international buyers who crowded the corridors of the 73,181-sq.-meter show at the Fiera Milano-Rho exhibition center came from Germany, Japan, Spain, Russia, France, Great Britain, Greece and Switzerland.

“We are extremely pleased with these results,” said Rossano Soldini, the chairman of the National Association of Italian Footwear Manufacturers (ANCI). “They confirm the long-awaited signs of a recovery that are beginning to be seen in our sector.”

Among the 1,654 exhibiting companies showing their a/w 2007-08 collections were newcomers making their Micam debut such as London-based brand Miss L-Fire (misslfire.com) which offered multicolored flowery plastic boots and Milans’ E (contact: +39 02 83241812) which introduced feminine and colorful girls’ boots and wintery sandals with rubber soles.

Well-established brands came up with funny inventions, too. For example, Fornarina Sportinspired (fornari.com) launched a sneaker that hides a high heel in the transparent sole.

Trendwise, checkered squares were everywhere. Red and black or white-brown-black tartan rubberized sneakers and checkered linings in men’s and women’s leather boots were among the hottest styles and were shown by Art (the-art-company.com), Mustang (2go-shoes.com), Terra Plana (terraplana.com), Pepe Jeans Footwear (contact: +34 965685117), Energie (sixty.net) and Psycho Cowboy (btxfootwear.com).

In addition, ’80s-inspired neon colors were strong. They were seen at OXS (oxs.it) and Vagabond (vagabond.com), which offered boots in neon shades of green, yellow and pink.

The winners of the Micam Award were also announced at the show. The Italian winner is Vincenzo Spatarella, the owner of an eponymous chain of shops in Naples. He started his business in the 1970s by opening seven shops and selling high quality footwear, leather goods and clothing. The award for best foreign buyer went to Alexander Gogol, who has been working in the footwear sector for more than 15 years. He opened a series of shops worldwide, carrying mainly Italian brands, and now owns eleven shops in Omsk, Russia.

The next Micam Shoevent will take place September 20 to 23.

— Barbara Stockinger, Contributing Editor